By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Hidden in historic, downtown Raleigh North Carolina lies a gem, a building that once contained a Justice of the Peace, now holds BossKey Studios, home to Cliff Bleszinsky and his team who are working on a revolutionary game called “LawBreakers.” Though the headquarters is in one building, they remarked that the whole downtown area is their HQ, because they roam it, live it, and work together as a team, as a family, to produce a game that will without a doubt blow the lid off of the FPS genre. It’s a pretty small production team, but everyone here is incredibly talented! We got to have some one-on-one time with their Art Director, as well as a Roundtable discussion with Cliff himself [that we admittedly dominated most of the time asking questions instead of the others because. . .well, we had a need to get you guys some good and not generic press release information!]
We got to see everything: from the animation department, to spending quite a long time watching them shoot a test dummy into space with rockets, or blowing them to pieces, or my favorite part? Zero-G blood spatter! When there is little to no gravity and a character dies, they spin and move in that area, in the direction they were killed. The ragdoll animations are amazing, but they did in-game confuse me a little, as sometimes I found myself unsure if someone was alive or dead. But when they bleed in that space, the way the blood goes dribbling away from the body in the air was really awesome. This is a very mature game, from the language to the combat, and this definitely showed me that.
We also saw the progress on Lawbreakers insane animations, how the body moves in low gravity settings, and how they emulate that. I really don’t get a lot of that stuff, as I don’t study animation, but I could see the little things, like even if the characters are floating, dashing, or spinning in the air from a thunderous explosion, you can still see what direction their gun is pointed, thanks to their animators’ hardcore attention to detail. Another really cool thing was seeing the art director show us how they highlight how a character is or is not visible in the light of the first area we were a part of. The gleam of metal in the low light, or the rustle of cloth – it was quite fascinating. They showed me some things we can’t really talk about because it’s certainly something I have not seen from any shooter, but you’ll be able to see characters at interesting distances if you’re really paying attention; which is hard. Lawbreakers isn’t exactly an easy game to sit still in and sight see. Well not if you’re gunning to win.
It felt like I was in a community where rubber chickens were hidden around every corner, or could be under any seat or desk! Everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there, and worked closely together to make sure the product looked and functioned as well as it possibly could. One of the things I thought was kind of interesting was at least once a day, the team gets together and played five on five matches of Lawbreakers to see how it is going. This way everyone on the team can see what the others are working on and provide feedback on the overall feel. It’s pretty inspiring. There was cool, nerdy stuff everywhere I looked, and people who had a genuine love of gaming, of their own product, and a bond with each other. I haven’t seen anything like it in a studio in quite a while.
We also got some insight into the character creation process, and how important the symmetry between the sides is. The characters have to feel the same, but apparently humans with horns are right out. I wish I could talk about the upcoming class that’s going into the game, but rest assured, it won’t have just four or five. More will be rolled out in due time [“Soon”]. All told, it was a really fascinating experience, and it is my sincere and honest opinion that BossKey is going to be a rival for talented programming recruitment in the Southeast United States. Right now, the big dogs are really Epic [which Cliff worked at once], Hi-Rez, makers of SMITE, and the CityState Games up in West Virginia. But while this is BossKey’s first game as a team, I know it’s going to be huge. It’s going to stand out in the shooter market and BossKey will make their mark as a dev team, even if I didn’t get a cool hoodie (not for lack of trying). But it was really a lot of fun, and myself and Colton eagerly look forward to more from BossKey.
Ready to hear more about Lawbreakers? Check out my in-depth write-up on the experience.